A day after they had rejoiced in hoisting the national flag for the first time during Independence day celebrations, some Dalit panchayat presidents in Tamil Nadu are fearing reprisal from the upper caste people.
M. Tamilarasan who is the Dalit panchayat president of Senthakudi panchayat in Pudukottai was basking in glory after hoisting the national flag on Monday during the Independence day celebrations, a thing he could not do since the past two years after he had become the president.
However a day after hoisting the flag, Tamilarasan is a worried man and speaking to IANS he said, “It was a moment of glory for the scheduled caste people of the state when I was able to hoist the Tri-colour but now I fear that we will be ostracised by the caste people. We are also fearing reprisal as this has not gone down well with many caste people.”
While speaking to media persons, P. Mahadevan of Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front (TNUEF) who is also the president of Myilai in Chengalpattu district, said, “This was a historic moment, that I was able to hoist the flag. During Republic Day functions, there were some issues with caste people creating problems. With the police around, this time, there were no issues and I could hoist the flag smoothly.”
Dominant upper caste people also use other tactics in acting against the Dalit panchayat presidents and in some places they turn the tribal people against the Dalits.
In Kannapattu village panchayat, Dalit woman president, Viji was opposed by the tribal members of the panchayat and she was not allowed to distribute relief materials to tribal community members during floods.
A panchayat president from Cuddalore district on conditions of anonymity told IANS, “It is not clear whether the society will accept me after hoisting the flag. We are expecting a social boycott as well as ostracism from social events in the panchayat. However I am really proud and happy at the initiative taken by the police and officials who made it sure that the Dalit panchyat presidents hoist the Tri-colour.”
While the Dalit panchyat presidents are on cloud nine over the achievement of hoisting the flag, most of them are worried on further life in the society. Many feel that there has to be an initiative to conduct regular conversation between Dalit community members and upper caste Hindus to put an end to the high tension job.